Using Long-Range Movie Forecasts: Movie Marketing in the Age Of Social Media

In the weeks leading up to a movie’s premiere, studios are thrown into a frenzy of activity. Millions are spent on marketing and promotion with little means to measure those dollars’ impact on the bottom line.

With so much riding on opening weekend, studios now can integrate invaluable new signals into their marketing process months before a movie’s release that chart campaign momentum and that of competitors. Studios do this by using new analytical capabilities to discover and to decode early social signals and to carry on a fruitful dialogue with key audiences that often lead to adjustments in messaging and orchestration in real time. This early groundwork, coupled with richer competitive context, allows far greater marketing precision during the final weeks before a movie’s release. Greater precision will yield significant efficiencies.

As a starting point, we benchmark a movie’s opening weekend revenue as early as 30 weeks in advance – with 85 percent accuracy. Networked Insights provides the context of comparable social equity against our full database of over 400 wide-release movies dating back to 2012, against genre aggregates and against specific comp titles. Networked Insights runs its models with two goals in mind — to evaluate a movie’s growth in social equity correlated to box office over time and to assist in optimizing movie marketing.

Each model’s mix of social metrics and external meta-data is used to benchmark box office success. The work has yielded 10 different types of predictive models which, when combined, form a stable model that allows us to determine opening weekend box office typically beginning with the release of the first teaser or trailer. This early box office forecast allows us to chart the efficacy of a campaign. Are marketing tactics successfully accelerating momentum or has the momentum stalled in the face of a range of factors from the first to second trailer? What are those factors, and what adjustments can be made?

Waiting For Tracking: Too Little and Too Late

Forecasts traditionally are made at the time of a movie’s entry onto tracking, essentially the movie’s home stretch. Time is short.The tracking metrics are opaque and often unstable. Over time, these metrics are a lagging indicator of market potential. No wonder tracking leaves everyone a bit uncertain and off kilter.

Consider the graph below. It illustrates the real-time correlation of social conversation and box office. Why not take advantage of those correlations long before tracking to influence your movie’s trajectory at a point in time when massive spending is not the go to answer?


Decoding an Early Signal

Evaluating the initial spike in social conversations and comparing the spike with comparable past trailer performance provides a relatively simple context. Let’s look at the upcoming release of Interstellar (November 7, 2014 release date).


When the Interstellar trailer was released, total social volume lagged only Godzilla and Prometheus for sci-fi movies released since 2012. These movies grossed $93 and $51 million, respectively, on their opening weekends. That’s a wide range, but when we analyze both the impact and the duration of Interstellar conversation overall and among our genre audiences specifically, we anticipate that opening weekend for Interstellar will more closely mirror Godzilla than Prometheus. Our evaluation of genre-based fan audiences conveys that the breadth of passion for Interstellar transcends simply the science fiction audience. Clearly, the ability to sustain and accelerate momentum are the critical markers for gauging the success of the campaign. This becomes clear long before Interstellar and other movies appear on tracking.

Extracting Social Knowledge To Aid Movie Marketing

Predictions a few weeks out simply do not allow movie marketers enough time to change course or adjust tactics. Our predictive models help movie studios understand initial social equity. More importantly, byviewing social media through the lenses of different audiences (science fiction fans, fans of a particular movie star, frequent moviegoers, a customized opportunity audience® curated from a group of movies a studio selects), studios have their own laboratories for evaluating and refining their strategy and tactical efforts. The audience optic allows the studio to discover, read and react in real time to social knowledge in the long tail of their movie campaign, long before the typical moviegoer has any clarity about the competitive set of movies. Once the final push begins, tactical initiatives, the cadence of activity, and the kinds of differentiated messaging will be in far sharper relief.

To learn more on our methodology and download the full whitepaper, click here.